1990: Taxi driver Tony Sullman founds Somerford Claims.

1993: Solicitor Colin Poole joins Somerford Claims.

1995: Somerford changes its name to Claims Incorporated.

December 1998: Claims Incorporated acquires Medico Legal Support Services (MLSS).

July 2000: Company changes its name to Claims Direct and is launched on the Stock Exchange with just under 27.8m shares issued at 180p each. Poole and Sullman retain 42.8%.

Sept 2000: Claims Direct buys Poole's claims vetting agency for £9.75m.

Oct 2000: BBC Watchdog features Claims Direct for charging high premiums and The Sun also slams the firm.

January 2001: Claims Direct issues first profit warning. Sullman steps down as chairman to become non-executive director and Poole becomes chief executive. Share price falls from 80p to 32.5p overnight.

February 2001: Shares hit a new low of 28p.

March 2001: Callery vs Gray judgment rules £350 reasonable for personal injury premium. Claims Direct issues second profit warning. Share price drops to record 8p low.

June 2001: Claims Direct announces “very disappointing” results for 2000-2001: with a pre-tax loss of £20.2m. Poole resigns and becomes non-executive deputy chairman. He and Sullman offer to buy the company through Barker Securities for a cash price of 10p a share.

July 2001: The Department of Trade and Industry begins investigating the company. Claims Direct's four independent directors urge shareholders to reject Poole and Sullman's offer, describing it as “deeply cynical” and “opportunistic”. Only 0.1% of shareholders accept.

August 2001: Poole and Sullman gain a further 12.8% of shares, giving them 55.6% control of the company. Offer now becomes unconditional. Poole and Sullman negotiate with Simon Ware-Lane to sell Claims Direct on.